The highs and lows of the last 18 months have tested every beauty business and in my role as a beauty logistics expert I have particularly seen the cracks appearing in brands supply chains.
As direct to consumer orders have increased and the implications of Brexit have fully landed, many founders have reached out to me, as their warehouse service levels have plummeted and they have been left handling mounting problems and challenges they could really do without.
Here are a few of the horror stories I’ve heard:
- Brands working with warehouses that are unable to offer any form of real time stock visibility.
- Fulfilment lead times of 10 days to pick and deliver retail orders.
- Warehouses centralising customer service and insisting brands raise tickets and wait in line to have queries answered.
- A reluctance to support and guide brands on European fulfilment post Brexit.
When it comes to growth and scalability, the significance of warehouse partnerships has always been undervalued, with many brands accepting basic levels of service and support that are not fit for purpose when put to the test. My experience has shown this choice is not conscious but the result of a lack of awareness and understanding about the full extent of services and benefits a warehouse can provide.
So, I’m writing today to rectify this and ensure going forward you truly understand what you should expect from your warehouse.
There are 3 tell-tale warehousing pitfalls you should look for and avoid:
- Warehouses choosing not to invest in their own IT infrastructure and as a result forcing you to function with a lack of visibility and control that seriously inhibits growth. These warehouse‘s will not be able to offer order integration, web portals, real time stock visibility and order track and trace.
- The rise of ‘techy’, ‘trendy’ fulfilment houses who are modelling themselves on Amazon. They have a simplistic pick 1 item, stuff it in a box and send approach. Their prices are low and therefore super attractive. If you fit their model their service is awesome but as soon as you start to have multiple item orders or require help, guidance or assistance the service breaks down.
- Warehouses that have lost their grip on how the world of retail is developing. The days of big retail deals involving the movement of pallets to distribution centres are over. The retail landscape now is far more diverse and fragmented; bricks and mortar stores, e-retailers, Amazon, D2C, subscriptions, loyalty schemes. We are living in a little and often world and warehouses have to reflect that in their experience, lead times and services.
In my job I help brands find their ‘forever’ warehouse partner and therefore work with a number of excellent, industry leading logistics companies.
These are the qualities they all possess and that you should be looking out for when choosing your next warehouse partner:
- They build their business around their customers.
- They are all family owned and understand exactly what it takes to build a business and enjoy supporting brands on their journey.
- They are experts in the retail industry and recognise and react to the changes happening around them.
- They are innovators constantly investing in themselves and looking at how they can add more value to their customers.
These are the types of services they offer every brand whether start up or established and should form the basis of your ‘must have’ checklist:
- Automated and seamless order integration.
- RF picking technology that error proofs pick, pack and despatch.
- Automated, regular stock reports.
- A web portal where stock records and order progress can be viewed in real time.
- Import and export support.
- A European mainland partner warehouse managed and run through the UK.
- A customer account manager on the end of the phone for quick issue resolution.
You are not wrong to expect so much more from your warehouse. They should be an extension of your own business, part of your team and there to lend their expertise and support when you need it. If the cracks have appeared in your supply chain then maybe it’s time to future proof your warehouse?
Rachel has over 20 years’ experience in the beauty industry. She helps businesses build logistic infrastructures that allow them to compete on an even playing field with established brands. Her mission is to bring big brand logistics to every brand with big dreams. If you want to chat about your logistics or warehousing drop her an email firstname.lastname@example.org
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